How to Give Bad News

How to Say What Needs to Be Said

When I was a new manager, I had the hardest time giving constructive feedback to my assistant. When it was time to share with her what she needed to know to help her improve, I couldn’t even get the words out. It was so difficult for me to say, that I had to try multiple times just to be able to tell her—because I was too concerned about saying what she might have thought was bad news.

bad news

My early days as a manager showed one extreme of improper communication in giving performance reviews. Other managers think that yelling the hard truth is the best way to give bad news. They think that it’s OK to say whatever they think needs to be said, without thinking about what it would feel like to be on the receiving end of what they said. Clearly both extremes are not helpful.

So how should we give bad news? What’s the best way to help employees improve? Here are four tips for how to say what needs to be said, even if it’s bad news.

How to Deal with Problem Employees

How to Get the Most Out of Your Team

When you think of the difficult people on your team, what do you think of? How do you perceive the problem employees on your team? Could it be that you are looking at them the wrong way?

problem employees

I’m not saying that everyone is fixable. It may ultimately be better for everyone if certain people don’t work at your organization any more. I think it Abraham Lincoln got it right when he said that people are usually as happy as they make up their minds to be. Nonetheless, you may be the one to help those certain people change their minds.

Difficult people have been through difficult stuff. And hurt people hurt people. If you just pass them off as problem employees then you may be missing a huge opportunity—for them and for you.

I realize that you may not be the pastor-in-chief at your workplace, but you can develop a pastor’s heart for your team. Spiritual insight into their situation can help your team become more positive, more innovative, and more productive.

Here’s how you can get the most out of your team by training yourself in how you look at your problem employees.

The Top Ten Steps to Success

I love reading motivational quotes and slogans. But recently I came across The Top Ten Steps to Success, and I thought this one was too good not to share.


I do not know who the original author is, but I have adapted and inverted the list in true Top Ten countdown style. And I also added my commentary to provide additional insight into this list.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy The Top Ten Steps to Success.

You Don’t Have to Know What’s In Between

How You Can Have Peace With Uncertainty

You can learn something for your professional career from the Oreo Mystery Flavor. Last fall Oreo announced a contest where the cookie brand offered everyone who submitted the correct flavor on their website could earn a chance to win $50,000. But in order to win the prize, you had to be willing to try a cookie where you didn’t know what the cream filling tasted like. You had to be comfortable with not knowing what was in between.

in between

So much of professional life is spent in between. There is the beginning—the entry into the workplace, the start at a new job, the launch of a new business. And there is the end—the person you want to become, the successful outcome of a new venture, the retirement from working. But there is so much uncertainty between the start and the finish. And the only way you can win the prize is if you are willing to embrace that uncertainty. It is important to get used to being comfortable with not knowing what’s in between.

Here is the process to implement if you are to embrace uncertainty and become comfortable with not knowing what’s in between.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Faith

A Step-by-Step Process to Put Your Faith into Action

I hear people say all the time that you just need to “have faith.” But what does that mean? And more importantly, why does it matter?


If properly applied, faith can be a powerful force, but many people don’t understand it. Some people think that it is just repeating the same statements over and over to yourself. While that may improve their mental outlook, that’s not faith. Others think that it is the mental acceptance of a fact. But knowing about Jesus is not the same thing as believing in Jesus. And there are others who keep their faith in the closet of their life and don’t bring it out except for show on Sunday mornings. That’s not faith; that’s compartmentalization.

Faith will be helpful to you when it’s incorporated into the totality of your life. When it shows up in every part of your life, you can get the most out of your faith. Here’s what it looks like to put action to your faith.

Why Embracing Criticism Will Make You Better

Three Ways to Reap the Benefits of Criticism

No one likes to be criticized. It’s not fun to be told what you did wrong. But criticism is exactly what we need to hear to get better.

embracing criticism

If you were taking a college writing course and got glowing remarks every time you turned in a paper, those remarks might make you feel good at first. But if the remarks became a consistent trend, they would begin to ring hollow. As a result of the consistently positive feedback, you would eventually realize that you weren’t getting any feedback that would help you improve. You would sense that you needed some constructive criticism to help you get better.

While not all criticism is constructive, it can be received in that way. But that requires that you look at criticism in the right way. Here are three steps to deal with criticism and make it work for you.

What’s better: Innovation or Productivity?

Why Innovation Beats Productivity Every Time

Do you think innovation or productivity is more important? Here’s a better way to ask that question: Would you rather work smarter or harder?

innovation or productivity

Forcing a choice of innovation or productivity is a false choice. Innovation will lead to productivity. But certain factors need to be in place in order to have an innovative workplace.

Here’s why you should focus on innovation instead of productivity in your workplace.

Why You Must Stay Intentionally Curious

Three Disciplines to Maintain Your Intellectual Edge

Curiosity is a good thing to develop in your life—especially your professional life. But curiosity requires that you have your eyes wide open. You have to be observant to notice what’s going on around you. That’s why you must be intentionally curious.

intentionally curious

You will not notice what you don’t focus on. It’s important to be actively watching what’s going on so that you can then capitalize on what you take notice of.

Here are three disciplines to develop so you can stay intentionally curious and maintain your intellectual edge.

How to Handle Being a Spiritual Target as a Leader

Three Ways to Strengthen Yourself as a Leader Spiritually

Because you are a leader, you are a spiritual target. You have people depending on you to do the right thing. And the enemy of your soul wants to take you down.

spiritual target

Pastors are leaders with big targets on their backs. But business leaders have targets on their backs too. And parents especially have targets on their backs. Because all these leaders carry the responsibility of leading and caring for those in their charge.

It is imperative to watch out for how you can be targeted by the enemy of your soul. Here are some warning signs from James 1:14 to help you handle being a spiritual target.

Why Intentional Thinking Is Key to Your Spiritual Health

The Three Steps to Personal Transformation

The source of your spiritual health is your thoughts. The thoughts that enter your head will either lift you up or bring you down. So the key to your spiritual health is intentional thinking.

intentional thinking

Many people do not consider their ways. They do not take inventory of their thoughts. And therefore reap the consequences of what Socrates called an “unexamined life.”

Romans 12:2 says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Here’s how you can take that verse to heart and improve your spiritual health through your intentional thinking.